Berthold Wolpe

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Berthold Ludwig Wolpe (29 October 1905 – 5 July 1989) was a German calligrapher, typographer, type designer, book designer and illustrator. He was born in Offenbach near Frankfurt, emigrated to England in 1935 and became a naturalized British citizen in 1947. He was made a Royal Designer for Industry in 1959,[1] awarded an honorary doctorate by the Royal College of Art in 1968[2] and appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1983.[3] His wife was fellow artist Margaret Wolpe.[4] He died in London.


Berthold Wolpe's cover art for A Girl in Winter by Philip Larkin, published by Faber and Faber in 1965. His font Albertus is used on the right. (details)

Wolpe began his career as an apprentice in a firm of metalworkers, followed by four years as a student of Rudolf Koch at the Offenbach Kunstgewerbeschule. In 1932 he visited London and met Stanley Morison, who invited Wolpe to design a printing type of capital letters for the Monotype Corporation. The typeface, Albertus,[5][6] was first shown in 1935 and completed in 1940. When World War II was declared Wolpe, along with other German nationals living in England, was sent to an internment camp in Australia. He was permitted to return to England in 1941 and joined the production department at Faber and Faber.[7] His use of Albertus and hand-painted lettering became strongly identified with Faber jackets in the years that followed, and continued from 1958 on the Faber paper covered Editions.[8] He remained at Faber until his retirement in 1975 and is estimated to have designed over 1,500 book covers and dust jackets.[9] A retrospective exhibition of Wolpe's career was held at the V&A Museum in 1980, and another in Mainz in 2006.[10][11][12]

In addition to Albertus, Wolpe designed several other typefaces including Hyperion (1932), Tempest Titling (1935), Sachsenwald (1938, never widely released), Pegasus (1938-9), Decorata (1955) and LPTB Italic (1973).[13][14] He also taught at the Frankfurt and Offenbach School of Art (1929–33), Camberwell School of Art (1948–53), Royal College of Art (1956–57) and City & Guilds of London School of Art.


In 1960, Wolpe published Renaissance Handwriting: An Anthology of Italic Scripts, co-authored with Alfred Fairbank, World Publishing Company.

In 1975, Wolpe published a monograph on the Elizabethan writing-master John de Beauchesne. The Life & Work of: John de Beauchesne & the First English Writing-books was published in a limited edition of 50 copies for the Society for Italic Handwriting, and was subsequently republished as a chapter in A. S. Osley's Scribes and Sources (1980).[15][16]


  1. ^ List of Past Royal Designers for Industry on the RSA website.
  2. ^ List of Honorary Doctorates Archived 11 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine. on the RCA website.
  3. ^ Supplement to The London Gazette, 11 June 1983.
  4. ^ "Margaret Wolpe (obituary)". Times. Retrieved 20 September 2015. 
  5. ^ Owen Williams, 'Berthold Wolpe and his Typeface Albertus'. In: Letter Arts Review, Vol 20, No 1, 2006.
  6. ^ Simon Garfield. 'Albertus'. In: Just My Type: A Book About Fonts. London: Profile Books, 2010.
  7. ^ "Berthold Wolpe at Faber (1941-1975)". The Thought Fox. Faber & Faber. Retrieved 17 April 2016. 
  8. ^ James Pardey, 'Wolpe, Albertus and Faber's Classic Covers.' In: Creative Review, December 2011.
  9. ^ Joseph Connolly, 'Berthold Wolpe: An Appreciation.' In: Eighty Years of Book Cover Design. London: Faber and Faber, 2009.
  10. ^ Rhatigan, Dan. "Berthold Wolpe: Type Designer, Book Designer & Emigrant". Typeoff. Retrieved 20 September 2015. 
  11. ^ Rhatigan, Dan. "Exhibition (flickr set of pictures)". Flickr. Retrieved 20 September 2015. 
  12. ^ Shaw, Paul. "Overlooked Typefaces". Print magazine. Retrieved 2 July 2015. 
  13. ^ Susan Shaw. Berthold Wolpe. London: The Merrion Press, 2005. Archived 30 December 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
  14. ^ Neil Macmillan. An A-Z of Type Designers. London: Laurence King Publishing, 2006.
  15. ^ "John de Beauchesne & the First English Writing-Books". Society for Italic Handwriting. Retrieved 5 February 2017. 
  16. ^ Osley, A. S. (1980). Scribes and sources: Handbook of the chancery hand in the sixteenth century : texts from the writing-masters (1 ed.). Boston: D. R. Godine. ISBN 9780879232979. 

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